Sydney’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse celebrated her record eighth Flight Stakes victory on Epsom Handicap Day at Randwick Racecourse this weekend with the punters’ pick Speak Fondly continuing the ace run of favourites at the meeting.
Boasting seven previous wins in the three-year-old fillies’ classic over the mile, Waterhouse saddled up four of the 11 hopes in this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) including the top fancy Speak Fondly.
A triple Group 2 winner coming off a brave second to Exosphere in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) from September 12, Speak Fondly continued to frank the Rose form after the winner flew away to win the Roman Consul Stakes earlier on Epsom Day.
Having her first look at the mile, Speak Fondly didn’t run out the 1600m strongly at all according to her winning hoop Tommy Berry, but her class and will to win ensured she still came away victorious in an epic photo finish.
Waterhouse’s Stratum filly Flamboyant Lass won the break and hit the front to set the pace in the Flight Stakes while Speak Fondly and Berry went straight up to settle into second ahead of Lauren’s Magic while another Waterhouse hope Sempre Libera tracked in a handy fourth.
Racing into the turn Flamboyant Lass still held the lead while Sempre Libera was inching closer before pulling out three wide to move up into third.
Sempre Libera, coming off a fourth in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) first-up a fortnight ago in a race that before this year produced nine of the past 10 Flight Stakes winners, went up to Speak Fondly with Flamboyant Lass quickly run down by the stablemates.
The Gerald Ryan-trained Perignon and Hugh Bowman, fresh off an Epsom Handicap win aboard star mare Winx, was also coming with a darting run back towards the inside.
Speak Fondly raced to take a narrow lead and was sitting there to be beaten, vulnerable at the distance with the challengers coming from a host of others including Tea Rose runner-up for last year’s Flight Stakes winning trainer John Thompson.
Monaco Consul filly Honesta and her hoop Tye Angland did their best to run down Speak Fondly ($2.50) with Perignon also right in the blanket finish.
The favourite, who relaxed beautifully outside the leader to ensure she had enough in the tank for the fighting late finish when the pressure was on, held in a gutsy win defeating Honesta ($10) by a nose with Perignon ($18) bouncing back for third.
Speak Fondly showed a great fighting attitude when they came to beat her and Berry was thrilled he was able to lift her after the lovely run to take out the Group 1 trophy.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” the elated hoop said post-win.
“Full credit to Gai, she’s had this filly spot on from day one.
“I don’t know if she run the mile out all that well today, but she’s just so tough.
“She didn’t want to get beaten it’s as simple as that. She was a beaten horse at the 200 metres and didn’t run out the mile but she was just too good for them.”
Waterhouse was equally impressed with Speak Fondly’s Flight Stakes win and confirmed plans to head to Melbourne for a rematch with Golden Rose winner Exosphere in the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) back down in distance at Flemington Racecourse on Victoria Derby Day, October 31.
“I’m over the moon,” Waterhouse said.
“She just gave that little bit and god she’s good.
“She’ll come back and win the Coolmore Classic I’ll tell you that now!”
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2015 Flight Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 8 – 03/10/2015
|1||1||SPEAK FONDLY||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||–||5||56kg||$2.30F|
|2||4||HONESTA||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||0.1L||1||56kg||$9.50|
|3||3||PERIGNON||Gerald Ryan||Hugh Bowman||0.2L||6||56kg||$17|
|4||5||PEARLS||John O’Shea||James McDonald||0.7L||7||56kg||$5.50|
|5||6||FLAMBOYANT LASS||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||1.2L||4||56kg||$12|
|6||2||KIMBERLEY STAR||Gai Waterhouse||Joao Moreira||1.4L||9||56kg||$9.50|
|7||10||SOFIA ROSA (NZ)||Stephen Marsh||Opie Bosson||2.7L||11||56kg||$31|
|8||7||SEMPRE LIBERA||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||2.8L||3||56kg||$9|
|9||9||GONE TO PARIS||Paul Perry||Zac Purton||3.4L||10||56kg||$81|
|10||8||OCEAN TEMPEST||James Cummings||Glyn Schofield||7.1L||8||56kg||$12|
|11||11||LAUREN’S MAGIC||Gary Nickson||Jeff Penza||9.6L||2||56kg||$151|